125 km west of Leh, Lamayuru monastery was founded in the 10th century. According to a popular folktale, Lamayuru was once a lake. A Lama once blessed the place so that it caused the waters of the lake to recede up to the mountains and left the place for the monastery to be built. This monastery is in utter ruins and only its main hall stands to this day housing numerous Tankhyas. The Yundrung Kabgyad festival is held here annually during summer on the 28th and 29th days of the second Tibetan month. Lamayuru has some fascinating caves carved out of the mountainside and is set on a high cape overlooking the village and valley. The monastery is also known as Yung Drung (meaning 'Swastika') and is worth seeing, if only for its beauty that surmounts that of any other gompa of the region.
The Cave Monastery of Shergole is old and small but has elegant frescoes. A peculiar Buddhist monastery of the region, it juts out of a brown, granite cliff and is frighteningly suspended in the middle of the mountain. The architectural oddity of the monastery along with its thrilling views arouses the curiosity of not only the tourists but also the locals and it is a perfect thing that one would want to take a photograph of, as a memento to keep forever.
The Samtanling Gompa at the relatively bigger Sumur Village is definitely worth a visit, and houses a fine collection of idols, frescos and tangkhas (painted and embroidered scrolls). Sumur too offers basic holiday accommodations, and a few days spent in this busy little village can be a very pleasant experience.
There is a lovely campsite by the river, close to the village. The campsite, like some others in Nubra, offers good tents-for-two with beds and a table and common dining and wash rooms. Though a little steep on the pocket, the continental breakfast and the range of good food at the camp can be very tempting in Nubra, where a can of beans carried all the way from Leh is a delicacy.
Try living in the campsite for a day or two if you can afford it. Nights at the campsite are especially fascinating - the sky is studded with stars that seem oversized due to the altitude, and the countless shooting stars seem to fall slower than usual, leaving behind a long shimmering trail. Add to this the sound of the gurgling river as you drift slowly into a restful sleep.